Diversity & Inclusion. Businesses have a huge role to play. There are practical ways to make your work place environment more inclusive.

Founder of Diversity Ally, Ashanti Bentil-Dhue, joined Bradley Hatchett for a Q&A at our Club-Wide Online Meetup, to discuss what diversity & inclusion in the workplace means for small businesses, how to overcome unconscious bias, shared her free guide to implement it and more.

Charlie shared information about how to leverage the relationship between LinkedIn and networking, striking the best balance of content, how often to post and much more.

Thank you to meetup sponsor Yes Promo Products.

Download the free Diversity Ally guide to support you in implementing Diversity & Inclusion in your workplace.

Bradley Hatchett & Charlie Whyman

What does Diversity & Inclusion mean for small businesses? What are practical ways to implement it in a worlplace?

Essentially it means is using your resources and influence in a fair way. Whether that’s who or how you recruit, and your supply chain. You might not be in a position to recruit, but there are other practical ways you can implement it.

You could have more diversity in your social media marketing, for example in your visuals. It shows potential customers that you welcome different types of customers.

You can choose who you work with in the supple. Being a small business myself, I look for companies that have great values about sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

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 Should all businesses have a diversity and inclusion policy?

Absolutely. The reality is you won’t have a 60 page document the same way a larger company would. But think internally about ensuring the language in your job description doesn’t alienate someone of a certain gender or disability.

Think about where you advertise. We tend to hire people we know. You will have a way of doing things, even if you don’t have an employee handbook or policy for diversity and inclusion. You’ll have a certain approach on the way you recruit.

Should diversity and inclusion be part of a bigger ethics policy?

Yes, it can be. A lot of work has gone into things like sustainability and environmental policies. It’s the same principles, we’re just applying it to human beings. You can use the same principles to approach diversity & inclusion.

It isn’t the same for every business. At all.

Especially in this remote world, do you have roles you’re hiring for that could appeal to someone, that for example, has a disability?

Are you reaching out and inviting more diversity into your business in those ways?

What is the resistance you get when apporaching businesses about this?

A lot of the time it’s the unknown. A lot of people don’t really know what diversity & inclusion means.

The second piece of resistance is the presumption. It isn’t about race. There’s so many different ways you can include people in our world so they can contribute to our business.

One thing to be really aware of is young people, they’re out of work massively during this pandemic. Are you embracing them in the business you run? That’s an example of diversity & inclusion.

The third piece of resistance is the fear of being scrutinised in public opinion. A lot of business leaders won’t want to admit they don’t know about it.

The last one is anxiety around asking employees how they feel about working for your business. You have to prepare yourself for the possible answers that’ll come along.

Is there a fear of legislation/paperwork/resource amongst smaller businesses in delivering on policies? It may be easier to say “I don’t know” rather than doing it

Absolutely. Really good question. There’s probably an assumption that it’s going to be an uphill mountain to climb.

It could just be a one page document that you attach to employee contracts so they’re aware of where you’re trying to get to. You want to showcase the values you’re aiming for and how that applies to your recruitment process.

Can you discuss how we can address Unconscious Bias?

The idea is that we all have biases inside of us that we don’t realise that impact how we see and treat other people.

You may not know how certain parts of your business activity excludes certain people. As an example, some religions don’t drink alcohol, so staff socials may exclude them.

Events like these are a way of learning about it. You tabling this at one of your networking events starts the discussion.

What thoughts or perceptions do you have about people? How could they be wrong? How does that effect the way you treat those people?

As an example, you may have an unconscious bias that a disabled person won’t be able to do a certain job. You may think they’re always going to be late or unwell. That’s a bias internally that you haven’t addressed. What happens then is that you may not shortlist that person for a job role.

If you are hiring position, think about the language you use in a job description, where you advertise and giving everyone a fair chance when interviewing.

What are the common pitfalls people fall into when trying to recruit different people?

Sometimes it’s just not approaching people that are different! Are you advertising anywhere different then where you do normally?

As an example, if you are looking for ‘mature’ workers, find networks/meetups/platforms that are full of those people. Approach the people who run or lead that community,  explain you’re looking to hire those people and want to build rapport with them.

One common pitfall is not actively approaching these different groups and letting them know you’re trying to build a relationship with them.

Where can small business get sound advice and guidance about inclusion at work?

We produced a completely free guide where we’ve identified at five mains areas within a business where you can start looking at diversity & inclusion in your work place.

Also, start a conversation within your business. There’s a lot of risk associated with this conversation for all involved. Start by having internal conversations, find where your colleagues about where they’re at on this topic and ask them where they’d like to see change.